“Should we understand a photographic document as being first and foremost an artifact of memory, a light-written ghost? Or is it more important to stress its status as a material thing created from pigment, silver, emulsion, paper, plastic, glass, silicon sensors, pulses of electricity? Or is the photograph primarily an opportunity to take or make, an arena for a special type of action?” On Polaroids, instantaneous photography, and memory over at The Nation.
“In an ironic twist, Super Terrain, a publisher in France, has created a new edition of Bradbury’s classic that actually requires extreme heat in order to be read.” The prototype copy of Fahrenheit 451, which looks fully blacked-out until you apply heat, may be available to the general book-buying public in 2018. Check out: an essay about Ray Bradbury from our archives.
“I’m not a journalist, and I don’t pretend to be one, and most of the pieces in there were assigned to me by Harper’s, with these sort of maddening instructions of, you know, just go to a certain spot and kind of, you know, turn 350 degrees a few times and tell us what you see.” Tom Scocca posts a five-part transcript of a phone interview he did with David Foster Wallace in February 1998. (Thanks, Nick.)
In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, at the age of seventy-one, rode a horse from California to Mexico, where he planned to cover the ongoing Revolutionary War. At some point, he disappeared and died, though accounts vary as to what exactly killed him. At The Paris Review Daily, Forrest Gander recounts the many deaths of the Devil’s Dictionary author, which include a public burning, death by disease and executions at the hands of Mexican soldiers.
Here’s a simple poll idea we’re amazed we hadn’t thought of before: asking famous writers to pick their favorite words. In The Guardian, Hilary Mantel, Tessa Hadley and others (including Year in Reading alum Eimear McBride) choose their picks for an exceedingly odd vocabulary list.
“We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we could not actually feel afraid or angry.” Let’s hope you never get approached by a bear while hiking in the woods with trailblazing psychologist William James, who had some complicated ideas about feelings.
Along with the dreaded switch to Daylight Wastings Time, the first of the month brings new issues of Open Letters Monthly and N1BR. Between the two of them, you can find, among other things, reviews of Where the Wild Things Are, J.M. Coetzee‘s Age of Iron, Bob Seger, and the Complete Bloggings of Caleb Crain.